Congressional leaders expanded the Supreme Court to 12 after Rep. Madison Cawthorn blabbed about cocaine and sex orgies in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan agreement gave Democrats two appointments to the highest court in the land. Republicans accepted the deal, which let them name one more Supreme Court justice.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, promptly nominated Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, to fill the newly created GOP seat. The Senate met immediately to unanimously approve the nomination.
Cawthorn, 26, the youngest member of Congress, now becomes the youngest person to join the august judicial body. McConnell vowed he would not stand in the way of Senate Democrats after President Joe Biden, a Democrat, nominates two Democrats to fill the remaining two open seats.
“This is truly a bipartisan decision,” said McConnell, who stands accused by Democrats of “stealing” a Supreme Court seat when Barack Obama, a Democrat, was president. With about a year left in Obama’s term, McConnell refused to hold hearings for the man Obama had nominated to fill a vacant seat on the court. After the 2016 election of Republican Donald Trump, Republicans put a GOP nominee on the court.
“That’s old news,” a jubilant McConnell announced, as Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, nodded his head and smiled. Added McCarthy, “Madison is a young man who can serve our country for decades in his new role.”
Political and judicial observers provided context for the surprise Congressional action.
“Democrats have wanted to expand the court for several years,” one veteran court watcher said. “Now that Republicans want to bury Cawthorn in black judicial robes, they got their way.”
But a second commentator noted that Republicans still retain a seven to five majority in appointments on the court. “Yes,” the previous split was six to three,” said the longtime political observer. “So, Democrats have gained some ground. But Cawthorn is nothing if not a dependable conservative vote on the court, even when Biden gets his two picks approved by the Senate.”
Meanwhile, Cawthorn wasted no time making news. He told a reporter for a local North Carolina newspaper that “Justice Brett Kavanaugh emailed me today.” The new justice, from the mountains of North Carolina, added, “Brett said he understood why I was so upset about being invited to D.C. parties where cocaine and orgies dominated. Fortunately, he said things will be different for me now. Brett said the justices play cards with one another when they are not deciding cases, although they may sometimes swill a beer or two.”
Reached at a D.C. cocktail party, Chief Justice John Roberts declined to comment.